The Paper Magician: Charlie N. Holmberg *Review*

The cover of The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg is to the bottom right of an image of origami hanging down in lines from a ceiling, colours of yellow and orange. Added text says: Ceony has bonded to paper magic... But can it save a heart?

Genres: Historical Fantasy, Fantasy Romance, Fantasy | Release Date: 1 September 2014 | Series: The Paper Magician | Series Book: #1 | Pages: 234 | Publisher: 47North | Review

“The heart had the dark to balance out the light, the uncertainty to balance the dreams.”

Charlie N. Holmberg


The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg has been an absolute gem of a read! This is a wonderfully inventive historical fantasy, with a dash of sweet romance within. I was sucked in by the cover of the book, and I’m so glad I didn’t keep scrolling past it.

Ceony Twill always wanted to be a metal mage, but with the lack of paper mages about, she is forced to bond to paper and learn her new craft from the powerful Magician (Mg.) Emery Thane. Is she disappointed? Yes. Paper isn’t anywhere near as glamorous or exciting as metal. Or at least, that’s what she thought…

Life goes drastically wrong for Ceony when Lira, an Excisioner, barrels into Mg. Thane’s home and literally takes his heart. Now Ceony and her paper-dog Fennel must find Lira and retrieve Thane’s heart, before the paper one she created for him stops beating. What this means? Ceony has to travel *inside* her teacher’s heart, in order to defeat Lira. Armed only with paper (Folding) magic, can Ceony defeat a practitioner of the dark craft? And will she retrieve Mg. Thane’s heart in time?

Cover of The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg is to the top left of the image of red (and some white) paper hearts on twigs, against a white backdrop. Added text says: Ceony must travel inside a heart to save Magician Thane... But will her paper magic be enough to save him?
The Paper Magician is a delightful historical fantasy, of both magic and whimsy.

Happiness Boost:

I know Fennel turns out to be a very wonderful sidekick on the adventure, but the happiness boost for me started when he was created. Ceony had had to leave her real dog behind, as Thane is incredibly allergic to pets. So when he makes her a living, breathing paper-dog to make up for that? My heart melted. I was already enchanted by Folding magic, but this just made my insides feel warm and fuzzy.

I don’t always need to know the backstory of how things came to be. Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the ride that is already happening! And that’s what Charlie gives us: Folding magic in all its glorious intricacy and fun. I could picture the animals and snowflakes so clearly, and as someone who is terrible at the simplest Origami? This was a treasure trove of how brilliant paper can be when someone knows what they’re doing.

This happiness boost could be controversial, but I was cheering for Ceony and Thane as a couple. As soon as Fennel arrived, I had my fingers crossed good things were coming. Of course, Lira throws a spanner in the works! But having Ceony travel through Thane’s heart in order to save him was a very clever way to introduce a little sprinkling of sweet romance. I finished this book in one day once I started it… So that tells you how much I loved it!


I’m actually really glad I didn’t read the reviews until after I had read The Paper Magician. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it! Maybe I’m just not a harsh enough critic, but I found this story to be delightful. Flaws that others have pointed out, I wasn’t concerned with. Don’t get me wrong, I love how some authors have an explanation for everything in their universe (Tolkien springs to mind)… But do we always need everything explained to us? Can’t it be part of the magic, the fact that Charlie doesn’t overwhelm us with all of the details?

Final Thoughts:

The Paper Magician is a beautiful, enchanting start to an exciting historical fantasy series. Charlie N. Holmberg writes incredibly well, and I personally loved the combination of magic and a historical England setting. I was deaf to the world while I was reading this tale, because when a heart is literally on the line, who has time for laundry or sweeping?! Chores can wait. Ceony’s adventures could not. I immediately purchased the next two books once I finished this fantasy. And just in case you also fall head over heels in love with this story like I did, I won’t make you wait for my reviews. I’m popping their links below too. Happy reading, glitterbugs!

You can order via my Amazon link: The Paper Magician

Impatient like me? You can order the next two books in the series here:

The Glass Magician | The Master Magician

4 Responses

  1. I did the same thing. I LOVED this book and read it in one day. Then I immediately bought the next 3 and then read the 2nd in one day! Charlie Holmberg is just a wonderful writer.

  2. I actually picked up Charlie’s newest book, “The Hanging City”, and fell in love with her writing style. Since then I’ve gone back and read Paper and its sequel with the next two books also sitting on my desk for afterwards.

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